Mom Talk: Who Will Be in Your Birthing Space?


Perhaps you’ve been worried about how you will handle the physical demands of labor and delivery, or maybe you are feeling confident and excited about going through the process of delivery. No matter how much you’ve thought about this upcoming life-bringing and life-changing day, I’m going to give you some things to think about that perhaps you haven’t considered.

Putting thought into who will be invited into your birthing space, and their level of involvement is important for your piece of mind. Your birth attendant should be someone you’re comfortable with and bring good feelings to the room.  I’m sure you’ve selected your birth attendant and hopefully you feel good about them, but will anyone else be there? Mother? Sister? Friend?

As much as you might be tempted to think about the feelings of others, first acknowledge what support and comforts you need. Don’t let the fear of hurting others feelings take over in your decision making. This is one of those times it is alright to be “selfish,” and think about who you feel emotionally comfortable and safe with. Those are the only people that should surround you, bottom line!

If you really want your mother there because you have a strong emotional bond that will be helpful during this vulnerable time, don’t feel pressured into allowing in your mother-in-law just to be “fair.” What is most fair is that YOU feel comfortable, and that is the only fair thing anyone who loves you should be concerned with.

I’ve seen moms-to-be get that uneasy look too many times during labor and birth as a certain person or people come into the room. When I pick up on that, I whisper to inquire if she’d like me to ask them to step out, but often she lets them remain because she wants to spare feelings.

Just think about it, do you want ANY of your thoughts to be consumed with how you wish __________ was not there? Every sense and emotion should be free and open to experiencing these miraculous moments. Don’t cheat yourself out of that. It’s up to you and hopefully your partner to defend and protect your birthing space.

If loved ones ask to be with you to see your baby born, don’t agree just to be nice. Unless you feel deep down it would improve your experience. Hospitals and birthing centers often restrict the number of visitors during labor and delivery, so get that information and then decide with that info in mind. While the facility may tell you five visitors COULD be there, it doesn’t mean you need that many. If you only want your partner and one other person then, that is what you should have.

Here are some ideas of what you might say to loved ones to let them down gently:

1.) I’m putting thought into who I feel comfortable with. Can I let you know soon?

2.) I’m sure you’re excited and want to participate, but after putting in a lot of thought; I really want just ___________ there to keep it intimate and quiet. I know I can count on your understanding and support.

 3.) After thinking and pondering, I’ve realized how emotionally and physically vulnerable I’ll feel. While I love you very much I’ve decided to only have (names of invited) join in the delivery room.

As a labor nurse, I’ve seen a lot of unwelcome and unnecessary drama play out in delivery rooms and hallways as hurt and angry people find out for the first time that they will not be there. I’ve often contemplated how much better and more peaceful this day could have been for this mom and baby if her wishes had simply been expressed in advance. I know it can be a delicate and awkward thing, but your needs and feelings as the birthing woman trump anyone else. Someone who may feel entitled to be present is operating out of a greater concern for themselves rather than that of the mother. Given enough time to process, most reasonable people come to realize that.

The sooner you decide which visitors you are comfortable with and when, the better. Expressing those decisions to your loved ones as soon as possible will let them get over any disappointment they might feel and eventually come to support your wishes. This will allow you, and your loved ones to feel more relaxed and at ease during your labor and delivery.

If you’ve expressed your desires to a certain loved one and they appear resistant to your wishes and you worry they may try to bully themselves into where they are not wanted, give a heads up to your nurse or other birth attendant. Speaking from experience, they will happily be the “bad guy” and defend your birthing space if you need back up.

While every aspect of labor and delivery cannot always be predicted and controlled, in this one matter you do have control, so don’t be afraid to express your wishes. I hope this advice helps empower you, and I wish you all the best as you plan and prepare for your baby’s arrival!